How long does it take content marketing to work? Here’s your answer!

One of the most often asked questions is “How long does it take content marketing to work?”

The simple answer is that it takes a while, but I want to break this down into two major categories of content marketing so you can appreciate how content marketing works. Here’s how I’m going to divvy this up:

  • Immediate content marketing, and
  • Persistent content marketing.

What I’m calling “immediate content marketing” is when you use your social media channels to share content you have created or you send out a newsletter that features your content. It puts your content in front of eyeballs immediately.

Immediate content marketing produces measurable results over the course of a day or two. You can measure clicks, website visits, views, sales, or some other simple metric. If you have a large mailing list or generate a lot of website visits, you can monetize immediate content marketing.

The content marketing problem

However, many small business websites don’t have the daily traffic numbers or the huge mailing list that can create a significant cash flow via this kind of immediate content marketing. What these small business owners want is to start seeing results from their persistent content marketing. This is why many get discouraged when they start pondering the question of how long does it take content marketing work.

By persistent content marketing, I’m talking about the marketing power that is created through the marriage of your content creation and search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns. This is when people start coming to your site through organic searches. Here’s the way this often looks to the owner of a small business website:

  • Content is created and posted on website.
  • This content is featured in social media and/or newsletter.
  • This content generates small but measurable results.
  • This content remains on website, but people generally stop finding it.
  • Crickets.

As the sound of the crickets takes over, the small business owner loses confidence in the value of content marketing. That’s understandable but very wrong.

Let me put this simply: It takes several months for a piece of content on your website to become popular and payoff with organic traffic.

Traffic growth over time

Below are two graphs from pieces of content on my website. Note that when they are first posted, they generate a respectable number of views for a few days. Then they slack off. Eventually, they start to generate more and more views.




Let me add one important caveat to this: Not every piece of the content you create will be a winner.

Some of the pieces you post, will never get to the place where they create any significant traffic to your website. Knowing this and understanding how long it takes content to start producing steady organic traffic, I have two critical pieces of advice:

  • Regularly create, post, and feature content on a long list of relevant keywords.
  • Be patient. Do not expect an immediate steady increase in organic traffic.

Do those two things and one day (fairly soon) you’ll stop beating your head against the wall as you ask yourself, “How long does it take content marketing to work?”

You’ll have the answer!

How to get started

To find those keywords and blog topics, check out these articles. They look at the job from different points of view:

On the broader topic of why it takes SEO so long to start working, there are a lot of factors to consider and Charlie Rose introduces them in this article over on the SEO Mechanic website.

Hang in there!